United States v. Hotaling

634 F.3d 725 (2011)

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United States v. Hotaling

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
634 F.3d 725 (2011)

Facts

A federal district court convicted John Hotaling (defendant) for possession of child pornography under federal law. Hotaling admitted to using a process called morphing by which he took the heads of six minor girls from original photographs that were not pornographic and digitally superimposed the girls’ faces onto the naked or partially naked bodies of adult females who were engaged in conduct that was sexually explicit. In one picture, Hotaling had substituted his own face for that of a man who was having sex with one of the naked images that bore one of the girl’s faces. Hotaling accessed one girl’s picture while repairing her parents’ computer and gained access to the other five girls’ photos from pictures that his own daughters and their friends had taken. Hotaling had not distributed the pictures, but he had encoded and prepared them for posting on a website. Hotaling labeled his morphed pictures with the real first names of the girls shown. The district court found that the statute criminalizing possession of child pornography was not vague or overbroad as applied to Hotaling. Hotaling appealed, arguing that his conviction was not constitutional because the First Amendment protected his morphed creations. Hotaling argued that because the girls whose faces he pasted onto the bodies of adults were not performing sexual acts when the photos were created, the girls’ interests were not implicated.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Restani, J.)

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